Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust and defenseman Olli Maatta are out day-to-day because of lower-body injuries, coach Mike Sullivan said after the team practiced Sunday in Minnesota, where the Penguins play the Wild in a New Year’s Eve game.
Both players are still being evaluated, Sullivan added.
Rust took a high stick off the opening faceoff Saturday at St. Louis and finished the first period before not returning. However, it seems likely the injury happened at a different time, particularly considering Sullivan described it as a lower-body ailment.
Rust has gone two games without a point, but before that he had eight goals, 11 points in seven games. He had recently been playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Zach Aston-Reese replaced him in that spot after he left the game against the Blues,. Aston-Reese scored and had a fight.
Maatta, meanwhile, winced noticeably when he blocked a shot by former Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo during the first period in St. Louis. The puck looked to hit Maatta in the left instep. He seemed to still be in pain on the bench but played 18:33 in the game.
Chad Ruhwedel is on a conditioning assignment with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, but Jamie Oleksiak was cleared to play Saturday after recovering from a concussion, but was a healthy scratch. Oleksiak could dress against Minnesota.
The Penguins have a season-best five-game winning streak, so a lineup change might not be ideal.
“It’s just the nature of the business,” Sullivan said. “It’s a hard game, and guys get nicked up. It takes more than six defensemen and 12 forwards and two goalies to win.
“We feel confident in the depth that we have with our group. We’ve got capable guys that can go in and continue to help us win in the event that certain guys can’t play. Right now we’ve got some guys that are up in the air, but we’ll see how they are (Monday) and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”